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Colin Hines, 'Localisation: A Global Manifesto'

Earthscan, 2000. ISBN 1 853836 12 5. 290pp £10.99

This is a revolutionary book; but Colin Hines doesn't believe in revolution.

The book's main point - that capitalist globalisation of the economy must be replaced by business and production based on the local - is a radical one, but he does not see a social shake-up on the cards.

Most of his argument seems to be directed at the supporters of the free market to convince them that localisation is necessary and possible. Chapter titles such as “Localisation will Bale Out the Market” stake out the position of the former Greenpeace International head of economics; this is a continuation of the Greenpeace plan of winning over the elites, the powerful by appealing to their self-interest. Unfortunately, the organisations that control the global market are unlikely to radically evolve or dissolve themselves. The move towards localisation will therefore be something of a struggle and possibly even a social revolution. The very evidence presented in Colin Hines's book demonstrates this.

The various battles against the TNCs/G8/WTO and other alphabet soup monsters show that the political class of the western world is irredeemably alienated from grassroots civil society. However, the solutions presented raise more questions than they answer. The local economy is to be revitalised. By whom? Capital flow is to be controlled. By whom? Trade and aid rules will be “redirected”. By whom? Currently the governments and corporations control all of the above.

Possibly an enlightened ruling class will implement the necessary reforms, but for these popular aims to have any real chance they will have to be carried out by popular movements. That means that the move towards localisation will also be a move against elitism, prejudice and power. Which can only be a good thing.

Topics: Economics